Parenting is tough. There are too many rules and there are not enough rules. Everyone has an opinion, and I can guarantee that whatever you do, you’re probably doing it wrong, according to someone who’s super excited to tell you all about it.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like if I had to pick ONE hashtag to use for the rest of my life, it would be #MomFail. Actually, every time I post something on Instagram, I feel like I should add on a #MomFail hashtag, because not one, but TWO people have told me they are “surprised I even HAVE kids, since I only post pictures of food and not my kid(s).”
So tonight when I was adding a delightful photo of poutine fries (from the Ohio State Fair!), artfully posed with the ferris wheel in the background, I almost added that hash tag for good measure. Hah. Hahaha. Hah.
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But that’s not the #MomFail I want to tell you about today, folks. (Don’t worry, I have a never-ending supply of parental failure to share you, friends!)
Today, I’m going to talk about the time I inadvertently frightened my toddler away from swimming pools SO badly that it’s taken years (yes, plural) to break her from that fear.
Here’s how it all went down:
We were splashing around our local pool, trying to get the little one used to the water because we were going to take her on vacation to a resort with a pool. Sounds reasonable enough, right? But she was kinda timid and not really feeling it.
So I tried to make her feel safe with us. I told her all about how her daddy was a great swimmer! How he swam all through middle school and high school and was even captain of the swim team! I told her how he used to lifeguard in the summers, and he knew EXACTLY how to keep her safe. Like an idiot, I blathered on and on. And on. I really thought it would help her feel comfortable splashing around with us, and it totally did….except for one little (tiny) problem.
She started to believe that the ONLY way she’d be safe in the water was if her daddy was holding her.
Which sounds perfectly reasonable until you start to realize that Daddy CAN’T always be holding her. Like, for example, when she needs to actually LEARN to swim. On her own. Whoops.
We stumbled through some swim lessons at the local rec center, but her complete refusal to be separated from my (ex-swim team captain, lifeguarding) husband proposed a few challenges. It didn’t help that the class size was pretty large and that the swim instructor just didn’t have the time or the patience to work with her fear.
As I was silently cursing myself for once again saying the wrong thing to her (why hadn’t I just kept my mouth shut!?) I realized some friends had taken their child for swimming lessons at Goldfish Swim School, and mentioned that the class sizes were super small.
I wondered if that could help.
When I spoke to the school, they assured me that the class sizes were indeed very small so they could provide tailored instruction, and that her fear was very common and they were prepared to handle it. Hm. Interesting. Very Interesting.
So I did what any desperate mother would do, I signed her right up! The drive to the school was a bit somber. My little one was super excited about her new swim suit and gym bag, but was not looking forward to getting into a pool. The fear was strong with this one!
By the time we had gotten to the school, the tears were bubbling out.
I was steeling myself for a complete breakdown. But then we walked in the door, and saw this sweet sign welcoming her by name! She was so surprised that she forgot to continue crying.
We took a quick tour and the decor totally reminded me of being on vacation. I kept reminding her that we were going on a family cruise in September and how much fun it would be if she was more comfortable in the pool.
It all seemed to work until it was time to actually get in the water…and then I could see the tears bubbling up again. And you guys – for once – I ACTUALLY SAID THE RIGHT THING!
I reminded her that she was one half pirate, and the other half mermaid, and I couldn’t wait to see what happened when she jumped into the water. I know it sounds totally weird, but hear me out. My little one is obsessed with pirates, and Pirates of the Caribbean, and has requested a pirate-themed birthday party every year for the past 4 years running.
AND IT WORKED!
She got into the water, by herself, with no tears.
And then Goldfish Swim School took over. Her instructor was so nice and could tell she was a bit nervous so she distracted her and helped her have fun. And would you believe by the end of the class she was FLOATING and SWIMMING a few feet by HERSELF!? In one 30 minute class. It was just so wonderful to see.
Thank you, Goldfish Swim School for sponsoring this post!